I’m 44 and I Have Arthritis (My Weight Loss Journey)
Overweight. Heavy. Obese. Fat. Four words that I despise, but yet either one could describe me at this moment. Having struggled with my weight for what seems like forever, I never dreamed that I would be the way I am now. But I am. And along with that comes a diagnosis that has thrown me for a loop.
About two months ago I began to experience pain in my left leg. Most of the time it was in my knee but sometimes it would radiate downward. At first over the counter pain medicine would ease it enough so that I could hobble off to work. Once there, I would try to find ways to incorporate more sitting into my day. (This was difficult as I teach a class of three year olds.) Nap time was my saving grace; while they slept I would sit and rest my aching leg.
For nearly three weeks I tried to grin and bear it and when I couldn’t stand it anymore I carried myself to the doctor. I was given a diagnosis, a full leg brace, a bottle of pain pills and a little lecture that went something like this: “Mrs. Robey, you are in the early stages of osteoarthritis. I am going to immobilize your knee and refer you to an orthopedist. Here is a prescription for pain reliever. At your age, you really need to think about shedding some of that excess weight and take better care of yourself. Have a nice day.”
Well gee, that was pleasant. NOT! I found myself in a place I thought was reserved for old people. At the age of 44 I have osteoarthritis. I am sad. I am angry. I am hurting. I want this to go away. I can only blame myself. I want to cry…and I do.
A few days after my diagnosis, I went to teach at a summer camp. Every summer I look forward to walking through camp and stopping at the lake, camp store and archery range, taking in the beauty of nature. Unfortunately, this time I could not do any of those things. I was forced to drive everywhere which was no fun and with limited mobility I did a lot of sitting and reflecting on my situation. I spent a lot of time with another minister volunteer, sharing stories of our aches and pains (he’s had multiple back surgeries lately and uses a cane) and I came to the conclusion that I had to stop feeling sorry for myself and get to making things better for myself. After all, according to him, I am only 44 and I can do something about it. By the end of the week I was ready to face the orthopedist – and my weight- head on in hopes of easing the pain and avoiding surgery.
I happen to like the knees I have and really do not want a new one.
After meeting with the orthopedist, (who pretty much told me the same thing as the first doctor) I have decided to make a plan and follow it as closely as I can. Knowing that I struggle with a severe food addiction and impulsive eating behavior this will be a challenge. But I am motivated and will work to do my best. I have chosen to start slowly and purposefully, meaning that I cannot starve or deprive myself. By doing that I am destined to fail; quite often that’s what happens to addicts of any substance. Very few addicts go cold turkey (I happen to love cold turkey, maybe I should eat more of that). And did I mention that I loathe exercise?
Taking baby steps to get started is in fact the only way that I know I can find success and lose the weight. My first step is to drink more water. Next I will attempt to limit snacks to healthy ones instead of the beloved Klondike bars I have stashed in the freezer or the chips I have buried in the pantry. Along with the patient support of my husband and children we will work toward preparing healthier meals, cut portion sizes down to what they should be and incorporate more physical activity into our lives.
I have been instructed to see a physical therapist which I will begin doing in the near future. Following their instructions and facing this obstacle with a positive attitude will be the key to a healthier me. The journey has just begun…I “kneed” to get healthy and I will.